Government of Canada partners with Alberta Innovates - Health Solutions, Government of Alberta, and Canadian Red Cross to invest $3 million for research into health effects of Alberta wildfires

Sep. 13, 2016

Reprint of Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) news release

Fort McMurray Fire May 2016
Aerial view of the wild fires in the Fort McMurray area from a CH-146 Griffon on May 4, 2016. Photo: MCpl VanPutten, 3 CSDB Imaging

(Ottawa, ON)… Following the devastating wildfires that swept through Northern Alberta in May 2016, the governments of Canada and Alberta, along with the Canadian Red Cross, continue to stand with the residents of Fort McMurray and the surrounding area as the community recovers and rebuilds.

In keeping with this commitment, the Honourable Jane Philpott, Canada’s Minister of Health, today announced that the federal government is partnering with the Government of Alberta and the Canadian Red Cross to invest $3M that will support research into the health effects of the Alberta wildfires.

Natural disasters such as wildfires can have significant impacts on health, including exacerbating respiratory and cardiac conditions linked to poor air quality; mental health challenges like anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder; the development or recurrence of addictions; and long-term health impacts from exposure to ash and environmental contaminants.

The funding announced today will fund the work of researchers investigating resiliency related to mental health and psychosocial wellbeing, addiction, and occupational health and safety for those living and working in the fire zone, including first responders and emergency clean-up crews.

“When disasters like the Northern Alberta wildfires strike, Canadians need to be able to access critical health and social services. The way governments and providers respond to these crises must be informed by the best evidence – for both the immediate emergency, and as communities rebuild.” Jane Philpott, Minister of Health.

“The Government of Alberta continues to support Fort McMurray as the community recovers and rebuilds. Investing in health research will equip us with the knowledge we need to provide residents with the right care throughout the recovery process.” Brandy Payne, Associate Minister of Health, Government of Alberta.

“The Canadian Red Cross is pleased to support important research that can help to inform solutions for a wide range of potential health issues faced by people recovering from the impact of disasters.” Jenn McManus, Vice President, Canadian Red Cross, Alberta and Northwest Territories.

“Improving the health and wellbeing of Albertans is the goal of Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions. We are proud to participate in this timely initiative that has, at its heart, the needs of Albertans.” Dr. Pamela Valentine, CEO (Interim), Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions.

“Evidence suggests that the events surrounding a natural disaster can have lasting health repercussions in some people and make others more resilient. We are excited about this funding opportunity and the potential to help so many people who were affected by the wildfires of 2016 in Fort McMurray and the surrounding areas.” Dr. Brian Rowe, Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Circulatory and Respiratory Health.


  • The Government of Canada, through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), is investing $2 million, and the Canadian Red Cross is contributing $1 million from its Alberta Fires fundraising total to date, which includes matching donations from the Government of Alberta.
  • The investment will be enough to fund at least six research grants at $250,000/year for a period of up to two years.
  • The investment will fund research into: mental health and addiction in children or adults, occupational health for workers exposed to post-traumatic stress disorder and air pollution, and other areas including Indigenous health, the toxic and environmental effects of wildfires and the impact of the wildfires on delivering emergency health services.
  • The application process will be managed by CIHR and its Alberta counterpart, Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions, with results to be announced on November 30, 2016.
  • Associated Links:  Alberta Wildfires – Government of Canada  and  Alberta Wildfires – Government of Alberta
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Application deadline: Oct. 18

See more about the research grant focus, value and term

Apply for this research opportunity: ResearchNet portal 

Aug. 19, 2016
Helping Albertans rebuild in Fort McMurray and beyond